二 The Modernisation of Beijing

This week

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Week 2 stays largely in Beijing but brings the story up to date. Since the Communist takeover in 1949 the city has undergone a huge transformation: the city walls were demolished to make way for several ring-roads, many temples and other ancient buildings were destroyed, and examples of modern, Soviet-inspired architecture were constructed.
But it was the preparations for the 2008 Olympics which saw one of the biggest transformations. The famous Olympic stadium and nearby buildings are the most obvious but the city also boast tens, if not hundreds, of new skyscrapers for businesses, hotels and residents. The cost of this transformation was the destruction of many of the traditional hutongs – courtyard houses – that had in some cases stood since the Ming Dynasty. We’ll be looking at the implications of this “regeneration” for China and its families.

Lecture: From the Hutong to the Bird’s Nest – Beijing’s Changing Architecture

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This lecture will look at aspects of Chinese architecture, in particular the design of the traditional hutong or courtyard home.

Reading

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  • Getting Rich First Chapters 1 and 2 (these discuss the rapid transformation of Chinese cities from the point of view of residents)

Recommended Reading

  • City of Heavenly Tranquillity Chapters 11-19

The rest of this book brings Beijing’s tale up to date, and also gives you some useful historical background to episodes in China’s history such as the Cultural Revolution. Don’t rush this – pace yourself.
You can read a couple of chapters a week if you want during the course of the module.
Ideally, don’t read more than one chapter at a time as each is effectively an essay in its own right and is best read with some space to think.

Recommended Viewing

  • Beijing Olympic Stadium Library location: ARCH/TP DVD421 (Also available on Box of Broadcasts)
  • Beijing: Biography of an Imperial Capital (3 episodes – available from Jonathan)

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